Scotland could play Japan and England in the summer

Gregor Townsend has revealed that Scotland could play a summer Test against Japan as the SRU weigh up a fixture programme for the international window in June.A development match against England is also being considered.

Scotland last played Japan at the Rugby World Cup in 2019. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Scotland last played Japan at the Rugby World Cup in 2019. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images

After bringing the curtain down on a successful Six Nations campaign with a dramatic victory over France in Paris, the Scotland coach is looking to the next challenge.

But Townsend may be absent from the national side’s summer programme if he is called upon to help coach the British & Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa.

The Lions are due to play Japan at BT Murrayfield on June 26 in a preparation game and Scotland could also fit in a fixture against the side who eliminated them from the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

“We don’t know yet who we are playing,” said Townsend. “Georgia, Romania, Spain are options. Japan are playing the Lions and we may be able to do something around them. There are discussions around that.

“There are also discussions around playing England in a friendly, whether it is a development or an A game, so I am hoping that in the next two or three weeks we will be able to put some fixtures together.”

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Townsend is confident that Scotland would be left in good hands if he does join the Lions coaching team.

“If anybody is away during the summer we have capable coaches that can step up and do that role,” he said.

“We have the summer tour window, which has yet to be confirmed but we will definitely have some rugby to play. We will have a period when we can get our players back in and there will be a two or three week period when we will have some games.”

Scotland’s away wins over England and France have convinced Townsend that his side are close to being genuine title contenders. The fourth-place finish in this season’s Six Nations does not reflect the quality of their performances which also included a record win over Italy and narrow defeats by Wales and Ireland.

“We’ve challenged in every game we’ve played in the last two years,” said the coach. “We’ve won six and had four games when we’ve been within seven points, so that’s being in a position to win every game.

“[Captain] Stuart [Hogg] spoke in the huddle after the game, and spoke again on Friday night, about this having to be the start of the journey to what this team can achieve.

“We play this wonderful tournament every year, we’ve got a World Cup in two years at the same stadium as we played France, so performances like Friday night and against England will give us confidence against any team we face, whether it is in the Six Nations, or South Africa who we play at the World Cup – that we can win if we get our best performance out on the park.”

Scotland will face the world champion Springboks, Ireland and two qualifiers in Pool B at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

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